Outside the United States, there have been eighteen school shootings in twenty years. The United States, meanwhile, had eighteen school shootings in just the first thirty-five days of 2018 alone.
The language of the Second Amendment warps beneath the mighty National Rifle Association, whose donation recipients in Congress tell us that shootings are inevitable. Somehow, unbelievably, the next tragedy is never more than one week away. To the parents and children of America, U.S. Senator John Thune (Republican, $180,000 from the NRA) says “Get small.”
Four week project
Advised by Annabelle Gould
Print, 16in x 22in
Get Small was featured in the Type Directors Club 39th Annual and The Cooper Union’s Annual World’s Best Typography exhibition.
The 64th Awards Exhibition Reception (TDC64) was held July 18, 2018 in New York City before touring worldwide.
In Autumn 2017, students in Advanced Typography were tasked with designing a poster related to one of the constitutional amendments.
Four days later, the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history took place in Las Vegas.
A couple weeks into developing the poster, two people were shot in my neighborhood. It happened across the street from my apartment while I worked late at night.
It was the fourth shooting I had been caught near since I started college.
1. Create a poster that piques discussion about the way our relationship to guns is discussed in government.
2. Design for a broad audience of UW students and faculty.
3. Be provocative as well as informative.
4. Call to action—what should the audience take into their own lives?
I scoured headlines for information about shootings—too many to count. The one that stayed with me the longest was the one to the left. “Get small”. I thought it was incredible that this was real advice given by our lawmakers. I knew I wanted to create something that interrogated the reasoning behind such a statement, and the shift of responsibility to victims as I perceived it.
To convey the bitterness of that mindset, I put the “Get small” line dead center of the composition, like a target. It is the thematic focus of the poster.
In the beginning, I compiled the bitter research of gun death investigation. Injuries, fatalities, the age of the perpetrator at the time. These numbers were staggering, and quite affecting. But there were other numbers that weren’t necessarily tied to the same databases: the amount of money given to pro-gun congresspeople, like Senator John Thune. This became my informative angle.
No one really knows what exact effects interest group donations have on policy. But I think they can offer insights into why congresspeople either make efforts at preventative lawmaking or not. I wanted to disclose the big players in the gun lobby—senators and representatives who accepted the most money from the NRA. Who are their constituents? Which party are they associated with?
When are they up for reelection?
I framed the composition with this data because I believe this data frames the conversation.
The conclusion is this: with tens of millions of dollars in the gun policy debate, we don’t know how clearly our Constitution is being read. In the poster, an optical distortion affects the language of the Second Amendment, symbolizing that uncertainty. With all this happening in the background, the message that surfaces is “Get small”.
What can a passerby do? Using Google’s URL shortener, I created a link to a database that tracks NRA donation recipients. The call to action is a red rectangle that breaks the literal frame of the “Get small” composition. If audiences respond with confusion or exasperation to the remarks I’ve quoted in the poster, this is their place to become more informed, and hopefully another tool to help make a decision when voting.